Pitfall! is a video game released by Activision for the Atari 2600 in 1982. It is the second best-selling game made for the Atari 2600 (after Pac-Man), with over 4 million copies sold.
The player must maneuver a character (Pitfall Harry) through a maze-like jungle in an attempt to recover 32 treasures in a 20-minute time period. Along the way, he must negotiate numerous hazards, including pits, quicksand, rolling logs, fire, rattlesnakes, scorpions, and crocodiles. Harry may jump over or otherwise avoid these obstacles by climbing, running, or swinging on vines. Treasure includes gold and silver bars, diamond rings, and bags of money. Under the jungle there is a tunnel which Harry can access through ladders found at various points. Travelling though the tunnel moves forward three screens at a time, which is necessary in order to collect all the treasures within the time limit. However, the tunnels are filled with dead-ends blocked by brick walls, forcing the player to return to the surface at one of the ladders, and try to find a way around again, thus wasting time. The tunnels also contain scorpions, which can harm Harry.
Pitfall! was created by David Crane, a programmer who worked for Activision in the early 1980s. In a November 2003 interview with Edge he described how in 1979 he had developed the technology to display a realistic running man and in 1982 was searching for a suitable game in which to use it:
"I sat down with a blank sheet of paper and drew a stick figure in the center. I said, "Okay, I have a little running man and let's put him on a path [two more lines drawn on the paper]. Where is the path? Let's put it in a jungle [draw some trees]. Why is he running [draw treasures to collect, enemies to avoid, etc.]?" And Pitfall! was born. This entire process took about ten minutes. About 1,000 hours of programming later, the game was complete."
The game's technical achievements included non-flickering, multicolored, animated sprites on a system with notoriously primitive graphics hardware. Innovative techniques were used to keep the code space within the 4k limit, including a polynomial counter to create 256 screens within 50 bytes of code. The vines were drawn as a stretched "ball".
April 11, 2018 Subject:
This game is one of the greatest and this emulated version is great.
P.S: Ctrl to jump
January 10, 2018 Subject:
THE JUMP IS AGGRESSIVE
Classic, but the jump button is so random. CTRL? Why not the space key?
October 16, 2017 Subject:
best of all recaP
October 15, 2017 Subject:
Looks like it would be great - if there were a way to jump! Please add control FAQs. No key strokes for jump or duck mean the game is impossible to play...
May 24, 2017 Subject:
Argolis007 & FireVaney
If you still haven't figured out the keyboard controls yet, I've found the 'CTRL' key is jump.
May 23, 2017 Subject:
P - To Pause Game
C - To cycle the game from Color to Black and White
Arrow Key Left - To move left
Arrow Key Right - To move right
??? - To Jump
April 25, 2017 Subject:
Thanks for making all these games available online! Please consider posting the keyboard controller options for each game.
August 9, 2016 Subject:
Thanks! Thanks! Thanks! My son and I are building a mid grade gaming computer. Poor ole boy is listening to me talk about gaming throughout the 80's and 90's. Last time I built a computer the Pentium II was king and AMD was a better chip. But alas...time sucks.
Anyways, what a great game. If you're under 40, you've got to play just to see what it's like and get a "feel" for what we early gamers thought was awesome. This was an early 80's game and for a 13 year old at the beginning of gaming, everything was magical and amazing.
January 24, 2014 Subject:
One of the first real platformers
One of the biggest games for the 2600. Difficult to complete, even with the map.
20 minute time limit.
Sadly, the game is the same every time you play it. Once you get good at it, the challenge is gone. On to Pitfall II.